Tag Archives: year in review

The Year That Was Part 2

10 Jan

Continued from my last post…

Feeling very ready for a change of scenery, an adventure, less distractions, inspiration and some time alone with God, I left for a two month road trip across the US of A on Monday, June 7, 201o. Why a road trip across the States? Good question. I don’t have a perfectly articulate answer as to why other than this idea was placed on my heart and the more I thought and prayed about it, the more it just kind of fit. And for other reasons that I can’t explain, I was fascinated with the idea of the Southern US and wanted to experience for myself what it was like. (Which, by the way, was all I’d hoped it would be and more. The South is lovely and somewhere I want to go back and spend more time). I won’t get into all the details of the trip (if you want to read about it, check out my archive for the months of June-August), but I will say that it turned out the be one of the best things that I’ve ever done. And to think, I almost bailed just three shorts days in. Even now, when I think back on what I did, I’m still amazed that it happened. There were times when I was spooked, lonely, lost, overwhelmed and unsure, but God had me covered in grace and protection the entire time and is the only reason that I was able to do this. The trip was good for me in so many ways – I gained a better understanding of who I am in Christ by being stretched beyond comfort zones and forced to rely solely on Him, I learned more about who Christ is, I met wonderful people, I saw amazing things and I felt a refreshed sense of creativity and inspiration. And I experienced an adventure that was fun, challenging, random, scary, insightful, lonely, enriching and soulful all at once. Something my soul had been craving for a long time!

While away, my grandpa (my mom’s dad) unexpectedly passed away. I was in Charlotte, North Carolina at the time I heard the news, staying with a couple that I just met. The day before I arrived in Charlotte, I emailed them asking if it would be okay if I stayed with them for a night – I had never met them and they had no idea who I was (other than a distant connection) – but they said yes. We became fast friends and I ended up staying for five nights. And what a blessing that turned out to be. When my grandpa died, rather than being alone seeing the sights in Asheville, NC (per my original plan), I was surrounded by compassionate, supportive and wonderful people. In the midst of sadness, it was amazing to see how God knew exactly what was going to happen and ordained a situation to meet exactly what I was going to need in that moment, under those circumstance. This couple and their friends will always have a special place in my heart and I am so grateful to them for giving me a place stay, food to eat, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen and some really great laughs during a tough time. It was during this time that I really began to understand what true hospitality and community is and has become something that I strive to foster in my life…. authentic, transparent, welcoming, accepting community.

Upon arriving home from my trip, I had five quick days at home to unpack, catch up with as many people as possible and then repack for my move to the Sunshine Coast for three months to work as a temporary office manager for my aunt and uncle’s company. I decided during the trip to make the move and at the time I was really looking forward to it because I thought it would be a great chance to debrief everything that happened during my time away and build momentum off of the renewed sense of creativity and inspiration I gained. But instead, it turned out to be a really challenging time… a bit of an isolated island experience. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time living with my aunt and uncle and two younger cousins and was really grateful for their warm hospitality and opportunity to get to know them all better, but it was a tough time for me. I was coming off such a spiritual and emotional high and naively assumed that it would continue once I was back on more familiar territory. I thought I’d write some books, work towards big dreams and figure out exactly what my next steps would be. It didn’t quite go that way.

In hindsight, those three months were good for me. One of my greatest weaknesses, patience, was tested and grew – albeit it, incrementally. I learned what it’s like to go away for awhile and return only to find out that there is a transition process looming and needs to be gone through in order for the feelings of not belonging to subside. In doing so, I gained a better understanding, if only a glimpse, of what several friends have endured in moving away for work and then having to readjust when they’ve moved back a few years later. Perspective… it’s a funny thing. But not ‘ha ha’ funny.

My stint on the Sunshine Coast was nearing its end and the awareness that I had squandered away nearly three months without a clue of what I was going to do next struck me in a big way. Guilt from time wasted set in, anxiety for the future took over and  feelings of inadequacy showed their ugly face. Oh me of little faith. But God had something up His sleeve. A few weeks prior to moving back home from the coast, I got a message from a former colleague asking me if I wanted to take on a big writing and editing project. Honestly, the timing could not have been more perfect and the project, more exciting. It was the first time since arriving home from my trip that I was genuinely excited about something. You see, I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a writer for at least a year, but lacked the courage and confidence to step out and do it. This project was the step I needed, and God put it right in front of my feet, all I had to do was inch forward onto the path laid out before me.

This marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life and brings me to where I am right now. I’m officially calling myself a freelance writer and editor and, although cautiously and gradually, have been trying to build my client base over the past few months. It’s exciting and freaking scary at the same time. I make my own hours, work from wherever I want and am accountable to myself. That might sound wonderful and yes, at times it really is, but going from having my time dictated by someone else to being completely governed by myself is quite the adjustment and requires a level of discipline that I haven’t quite figured out yet. It’s a work in progress. But to be doing something that I truly enjoy is refreshing and fulfilling and I’m so thankful for how God has provided in this way.

Christmas was good, although being the first Christmas without grampa, a noticeable void was felt that was filled with sad moments, joyful memories and a few tears. One thing that I’ve become increasingly aware of over this past year is that I’m truly blessed with a wonderful family. I’ve always known this, but the reality of it just kind of hit me this year. Sadly, not everyone is blessed with a great family and it’s something that I’ve taken for granted, but I’m unbelievably thankful for them… even when we make each other mad.

All in all, 2010 was a year of heartache and joy, love and loss, transformation and change. In the past, I have not responded well to change, but God has lovingly forced it on me and I’m learning to just let it happen… it’s simply easier that way (and I use the word ‘easy’ loosely). I think I’ve learned a lot this year. But it’s funny, in learning, I realize that there is not an arrival point for this. In other words, I will never learn everything. If learning was a cup, it would never be possible to fill it. I know that may sound pessimistic, but it comes from a realistic place – a place that is allowed to not know everything, to not have all the answers, that doesn’t have all the proverbial ducks in a row or even knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. Maybe this place sounds stressful to you, but this is a place that has eluded me for quite some time and I’m finally able to find a varying degree of rest and peace here and face (and hopefully enjoy) the moment that’s right in front of me because that is what I’m given.

If you made it all the way through this, I’m impressed and thank you for reading. I’m excited for a new year. I know that a new year is just another flip of a calendar page, but there is something about it – it’s almost like the flip from December to January represents the opportunity to start from a clean slate. It’s interesting, I have no idea what this year holds, sure I have my hopes and have jotted down a list of goals/resolutions, but I go into this year with an open heart and mind to wherever God leads. And just pray that when He does, I’m listening and follow suit.

The Year That Was Part 1

4 Jan

Happy New Year everyone! I suppose at January 4th, 2011  I’m a bit behind on a yearly review post, regardless, that is what this post is going to be. It’s a good thing that I started journaling about two years ago so I have something to refer to or otherwise I’d have a tough time remembering everything that occurred over the past 12 months.

[Several minutes later]

Well I just did a quick scan of my journals over the past year. As it turns out, I didn’t actually journal as much as I thought. I started strong in January and February – probably because it was a resolution of mine from the previous year – and then it dwindled off in the following months. This probably coincides with the deep rut I found myself in during the dog days of winter and heading into spring. My journaling picked up again though between June and August because that’s when I went on my two month road trip through the US of A that saw me hit 23 different states (yes, I just counted them out on my fingers) and was awesome (more on this later). Journal entries continued to go strong for the few months following my return from the trip, but died down again towards the end of the year, bringing me to now.

Rather than provide a play-by-play of the events of my year, I think I’ll stick to some of the highlights… and low-lights. Because really, we wouldn’t know what the highs are without experiencing the lows.

The year started out tough. My little heart was still in recovery mode from heartache and was flooded with painful emotions and spinning from unanswered questions. On January 1, 2010, I wrote a prayer to God. I prayed that my relationship with Christ grow deeper, wider and stronger. That the wounds of past hurts would close and leave behind scars that would become a beautiful part of who I am, hurting less with each passing day. I prayed for inspiration. I prayed for moments with Christ in which His Spirit would overcome me and that I’d hear His voice and see His face. I prayed for transformation of my heart.

While some of these prayers are still a work in progress and always will be I think (and hope), I can honestly say that these prayers have been answered over this past year. Maybe not always in the way that I wanted or thought was best, but answered nonetheless. Although it’s been difficult to see along the way, going back and reading my sad words and painful feelings is a reminder of how far God’s brought me over these past 12 months. I think one of the most important things I’ve learned this year is that I can’t base my faith and relationship with Christ on experiences alone – those moments when I feel His presence or have tangible encounters with the Holy Spirit. It’s in learning this that my relationship with Christ has grown more solid and my trust in Him, more true…. though still so imperfect.

Moving on. It was early in the year when feelings of restlessness crept in leaving a constant feeling of discontent. And by the end of February, they were in full force. This is around the time when I made the decision to go away for a bit and how I ended up driving through the States for two months. But winter wasn’t all doom and gloom. We actually had one of the nicest BC winters that I can recall and Vancouver was host to the 2010 Winter Olympics. During these few weeks, Vancouver was the place to be and there was a tangible buzz everywhere you went. It was so cool to be right in the thick of it all. And witnessing Sidney Crosby score in overtime to win Canada the gold medal over the US in the final hockey game with literally thousands of people at Live City in Yaletown was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I’ve never felt more patriotic than I did during those two weeks. The feeling of patriotism has since worn off, it’s a bit tiring being that patriotic. Is that how Americans feel all the time?

One thing I almost forgot… I started taking piano lessons again in January. I took up to grade 5 Royal Conservatory when I was younger but then quit for basketball (still can’t believe I did that – I could’ve done both), but I’d been itching to play again so I called up my former teacher and asked her if she’d have me as a student again. She said yes. So every Monday up until I left for my road trip, I went to piano lessons and absolutely loved it! It was during this time that I really began to understand the discipline it takes to hone a skill. Yes, I partially learned this lesson during my basketball glory days, but to be honest, too often I was guilty of relying on my natural ability. But with piano, I wanted to be great at it and realized the amount of work that it takes to become great at something. Update: I’m still not great at piano, but I’m getting better.

In spring, I took a week off of work, got on an airplane and went to visit friends in Phoenix and Oklahoma. It’s funny, whenever I refer to these friends, I say that one lives in Phoenix (a city) and the other lives in Oklahoma (a state) – I think it’s because if I said Yukon, no one would know that this is a city in Oklahoma whereas most people know that Oklahoma is a state in the US. Anyways, it was great to see friends and I got to take them both to a Needtobreathe (my favourite band) concert. It just so happened that Needtobreathe were playing in Tulsa, OK and then in Tuscon, AZ a few nights later so it worked out quite perfectly. There is nothing quite like seeing your favourite band play live… especially when the live show is SO much better than anything recorded.

This brings me to the month leading up to my road trip. Months of planning went into my two month trek across the states, which considering, I should have been far better prepared. I was a rookie traveller though. Any traveling I’d ever done had been with a team in which everything was planned and executed for us and all I had to do was show up with my basketball shoes and uniform and at times, even that was a stretch. Other traveling includes two family vacations to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Dominican… again, all that was required of me was to get up in time to catch the airplane and be fun. But the most important preparation for this trip was what was going on in my heart and soul… and I knew God was taking care of that.

In preparation for my trip, in April 2010, I quit my job as Assistant Marketing Manager at Relevention Marketing. I didn’t have to, but I felt that in order for this trip to fulfill its purpose, this was something I needed to do. My last day of work was June 3rd, 2010 and on June 7, 2010, I left for what would turn out to be quite an amazing experience.

Halfway through writing this, I decided to turn this post into two parts, so this is to be continued… (hopefully by this weekend).